Adaptation by Spike Jonze
After watching Spike Jonze’s 2002 Adaptation comic film I cannot help but demonstrate empathy towards certain characters, specifically, Donald and Charlie who are twin brothers. For example, I am greatly saddened by the failure of the conventionally successful Charlie to produce a sufficiently impressive script for the Adaptation movie. Such an outcome, which demonstrates a defeatist attitude on the part of Charlie, also points out that with passion, persons can attain almost any feat that they set out to accomplish. On his part, Donald records success in his script writing endeavors basically owing to his intense passion in his undertakings. The good relationship between the 2 brothers, despite their obvious differences, thus makes me proud of their originality and accommodative powers.
Further, I marvel at John Laroche’s great efforts to adapt Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief article into film. Through this undertaking, Laroche demonstrates intense determination as he attempts a very difficult undertaking. Laroche’s strong willpower thus motivates me to always put forth my best efforts in all activities.
Another poignant incidence in Jonze’s film is the instance whereby after experiencing the double tragedy of losing both his wife as well as his wealth, Laroche is hired by Seminoles to aid in orchid collection. This development acts as a much needed reprieve for the obviously troubled Laroche. The man who has been recently rendered destitute secures a source of income. This event thus makes me to poignantly reflect on how humanity is usually a sad victim of circumstances with regard to natural catastrophes like the hurricane that destroys Laroche’s possessions. I thus hold that mankind is a very feeble creature in the wide universe.
Related to the aforementioned concept, although Laroche benefits from the Seminoles’ assignment, the Indians are essentially abusing Laroche, a fact that later lands him into trouble. It looks as though Laroche does not bother to investigate how the Seminoles are using the orchids he collects for them. This aspect makes Laroche to ultimately be at loggerheads with the authorities. He is accused of acquiring orchids that the Seminoles use to manufacture illegal drugs. This development also illustrates how desperation can lead people to engage in unthinkable activities. Laroche’s needy status does not allow him time to seek further clarification as to how the Seminoles use the orchids. I therefore greatly empathize with Laroche for his unfortunate situation.
Ultimately, towards the end, Jonze transforms the otherwise slow-paced movie to become a fast-paced action-packed film. This changeover is symbolic for it not only heralds doom, but also brings the movie to a poignant halt. For instance, Jonze’s sad victims of circumstances – Donald, Laroche, and Susan – die, with Charlie – the hero – being left intact. I am thus made to feel sorry for the three characters who die as the film ends.
How would you differentiate Charlie Kaufman from his twin brother Donald? Obviously they both look exactly like Nicholas Cage, but does Cage portray both twins identically? If not (and “not” is the way to go here), what’s different? I don’t want you to state your overall impressions or opinions or conclusions here, as much as I want to know what made you draw those conclusions. What does each of these characters do or say on the screen that makes you conclude “That’s not what his twin brother would do or say”?
Nicholas Cage does not completely succeed in making Donald and Charlie similar because both characters are presumably identical twins but behave differently throughout the film. For instance, at one point, Charlie points out that the direction that McKee gives regarding scriptwriting is unnatural. Conversely, Donald seems to accept McKee’s advice as good. This disparity makes the 2 brothers to openly disagree regarding McKee’s script writing counsel.
Where does Charlie Kaufman’s script end, and his brother’s (or some sort of Charlie/Donald collaboration) begin?
Charlie terminates his script after he discovers that he cannot confidently approach Susan for script writing advice. It is at this time that Donald comes to the rescue of his brother. Donald thus approaches Susan on behalf of his brother. The 2 brothers thus join efforts and begin working as a unified team.
Similarly, where does Meryl Streep stop characterizing the real Susan Orlean, and begin characterizing the fictional Susan Orlean? As with the Kaufman twins, find specific scenes and actions and dialogues that differentiate the one from the other.
When Donald and Charlie are strategizing on how to trick Susan into giving out crucial script writing information, Meryl Streep fully metamorphoses into the fictional Susan. Specifically, the interview session that Donald has with Susan marks her full changeover from the real Meryl Streep.
Was this movie an adaptation of Orlean’s work? Did it try to make the same or similar points to the ones she was trying to make? Was there any of her work? The sprawling New Yorker stuff? That Charlie Kaufman complains about to his agent that you felt had been omitted to the movie’s detriment? Or did the movie go in a completely different direction (and thus not even qualify as an adaptation at all)?
The Adaptation movie initially follows the course of Susan’s The Orchid Thief story but later changes into an entirely different creation whereby the relationships and personalities of the Kaufmann brothers are explored. The question of whether or not the film qualifies as an adaptation of Susan’s story is thus muddled.
Explain the pun in the title ‘Adaptation’.
Adaptation is an ironical title for the movie because it essentially has to do with Kaufman’s inability to adapt Susan’s story into a movie. Further, no real adaptation of the story occurs through the movie’s events.
Read all of these responses to it, and write your own response to any specific point that interests you. (You can respond to more than one source if you like, as long as it addresses the same general point you’re discussing.) This is another opportunity for you to display your documentation skills. (You may need to do a little library work to discover how to document these sources–I DON’T want to see “Professor Goldleaf’s assignment” listed as a source, although that’s technically what your source is. I want you to document these sources as if you’d found them on your own, and your paper will be read by someone outside of this course who has no idea how to find your assignment.) Again, this DB will be eligible for full credit (3 points) only if it’s submitted on time, in exceptionally clear prose, with a colorful title, good paragraphing, superb documentation form, and is at least 300 words.
David Denby’s 2002 the New Yorker post titled Hothouse “Adaptation” and “Solaris” has a number of significant points. For example, the author makes a number of questionable generalizations through the article. On the other hand, Denby presents some arguments that are laudable and that demonstrate his wit through the article.
To begin with, Denby controversially employs the success that Donald demonstrates in the movie making industry as a testimony to the fact that conventional moviemaking requires more than intellectual knowledge (Denby). To demonstrate, Donald is not famous as a script writer. Despite this deficiency, Donald however emerges as being more effective in script writing as compared to his self assuming brother. This development stuns not only Donald himself, but also Charlie – his brother – as well. Academic knowledge is thus shown as not being the only significant factor as to whether or not one succeeds in movie making. It is as if Denby seeks to argue that natural artistic talent plays a bigger role in enabling one to succeed in the arts. This is a concept that is conventionally acknowledged in the contemporary world. Denby is thus spot on in mentioning and analyzing this peculiar quality in Donald that sees him triumph over Charlie.
I should however mention that through the movie, it is not evident that Laroche has the hidden agenda of scientifically multiplying the orchid to benefit himself as he accepts the Seminoles’ assignment. Denby would thus be required to provide substantiation for his idea that Laroche seeks to breed the orchid in vitro so as to gain financial benefits from its sales. This clarification would not only provide an additional angle for analyzing the motive from, but also establish Denby as a critical and sensitive thinker.
All in all, Denby has developed a very intuitive and informative article about the adaptation movie. The article offers deeper insight and analysis of the motive, both explicit and explicit, behind Jonze’s development of the movie. His efforts are thus laudable despite the aforementioned unclear points.
Denby, David. Hothouse: The New Yorker. 9 Dec. 2002.7 Aug. 2010.